I don't think any of us could have predicted the success that Zoë has reached today, but I can't say I'm surprised - she has the likability, the charm and the integrity to reach YouTube stardom, something that didn't even exist when she started this as a hobby. Her hobby is now her job - I really wanted to make that into a rhyme with 'jobby' then! - and she has over 6.6 million subscribers on her main channel, an almost incomprehensible number.
There are plenty of other people, I'm sure, who can remember Zoë starting her blog in 2009 and 'zoella280390' - which was 'the beginning'. As someone who feels like they've been there since 'the beginning', it has truly been an absolute pleasure to watch her grow and I feel so, so incredibly proud of everything that she has achieved and built for herself. I feel that she always puts her audience first whenever possible and has remained grounded and 'real', despite being one of the most influential and popular young people in the UK today.
I scribbled the title of this blog post down in a notebook after my 'lightbulb moment' in the shower a month or so ago, but after recent events have come to light I felt it even more important that I sit down and write this. Today I saw a newspaper headline that began with, "Zoella quits the internet" - and I felt shocked. It turned out that it was just the newspaper sensationalising the story, undoubtedly in an unashamed fish for more hits, but for a few seconds I was so sad at the prospect of Zoë not being able to do what she loves because of the amount of negativity directed at her.
What is with the internet these days and trying to bring people down? I don't want this to become the focus of this post as I think Zoë radiates positivity and joy and I'd hate to detract from that, but I do want to touch on it as it's one of the main reasons why I feel so proud of her. The volume of comments that she receives every day, both positive and negative, must be absolutely overwhelming. It might feel endless, suffocating, surreal.
I'm possibly one of Zoë's 'quieter' viewers - I watch and 'thumbs up' every video but don't always comment unless I have something worthwhile to say, I follow her on Twitter but don't see, favourite or reply to every tweet she sends. I still read her blog, the same as I did five years ago - to me, fame hasn't changed her and she's still the same girl. I'm subscribed to her brother Joe (Thatcher Joe), as I think he's hilarious and a successful YouTuber in his own right. I support her and am a fan, but I don't invest a lot of my time thinking about her life and I don't judge her or any decisions that she makes. I imagine many of Zoë's viewers are like me, and it concerns me that we may be drowned out by those who do judge, who do obsess, who do criticise.
I would hate for this to happen, and I urge you to think before you type. As Zoë said recently in her blog post entitled 'Why I Stopped Daily Vlogging - Hate On the Internet', "every time you post something online, you have a choice. You can make people happy or you can take away their happiness".
As I mentioned I don't want to focus on the negativity aimed at Zoë as it's something that I try to avoid reading myself and not what I want this post to be about, but I am proud of her. For facing it all, every day, and not giving up. Sadly there are a lot of sad and cruel-hearted people in the world who would love to see her fall, but I'd like to think that there are a lot more supportive and kind-hearted people in the world who would love to see her succeed.
I'm writing this because I want to add another voice to 'Team Zoë', and to the large group of people who want YouTube to be a happy place. A place where a young woman won't be hated on, picked apart and essentially bullied in the comments of her own video by people who are choosing to watch her content - content that's totally free. I'm sure that 99% of Zoë's subscribers are wholeheartedly supportive, and I so wish that the 1% of people who think it's okay to over-analyse someone's relationship, illness, looks and character just because they're a YouTuber would take a step back and focus more on their own lives.
This is getting very long and wordy, but the bottom line is that I feel unbelievably proud of Zoë. She's paving a path for young people in social media in a way that I've never seen before, and I'm so glad that she has her family, partner and friends to support her through all of this craziness. Holding a product created by someone who I've followed for so many years feels monumental, and I think that's why Zoë is so popular - you feel as if she's your friend. She's an ordinary girl with an extraordinary job, and I couldn't be prouder. PROUD!
In 2012 I was watching SBTRKT play at Reading Festival with my friends, when Zoë and Joe walked past me. I knew that Zoë suffered badly with anxiety and panic attacks - the tent was quite busy and she looked slightly stressed, so I just smiled and didn't stop her to tell her that I'd been reading her blog and watching her YouTube videos for over three years. I don't regret it as I've got a feeling she needed to get out of that tent without being stopped, but if I could time-travel back to that moment I might've said hello, given her a hug and told her - "you got this".
I just wanted to express my proudness - did I mention that I feel proud? - for someone who I feel deserves a round of applause as well as every good thing that life has to offer. If you've got something positive to add however, please feel free leave a comment!